"Be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God."—Rom. xii. 2.
WITH the first verse of Rom. xii. the practical
"" part of the Epistle begins by Paul's imploring believers to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. In verse 2 there follows the call to these God-devoted men, if their sacrifice is indeed to be acceptable to God, to prove, that is, to find out and show, what is the acceptable will of God. He who would live as an acceptable sacrifice must live in the acceptable will of God. The one acceptable sacrifice is the doing of the acceptable will. To live in the will of God is the one only thing that can make us wellpleasing to Him. The one only object and proof •of true consecration is—doing the will of God. The three adjectives Paul uses, the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, indicate three stages in our proving and knowing the will of God. The first refers to our discerning between good and evil, and our accepting what we know of God's will as indeed good. The second points to our knowledge of God's will in special relation to ourselves. The will of God is not the same for all His children; as we find out what is specially the will of God for ourselves, we know that what we do is actually acceptable, well-pleasing to Him. The third word, perfect, tells us that we may not rest content with what we already know and do of God's will; this is only a beginning; we must press on to stand perfect in all the will of God. To know and accept the will of God as good, is the first step, is good. To know it in our personal relationship to Him as well-pleasing is better. To know the perfect will of God is best of all, the true aim of the full Christian life. So we can prove and know for ourselves, so we can prove to men, what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. So we yield our bodies an acceptable sacrifice. On the first great call of the Epistle: Live wholly as sacrifices to God, follows at once the second as its complement: Live only to do the will of God.
Between these two commands there are inserted
a warning and an exhortation. "Be not fashioned according to the world" is the warning that reveals our first and greatest danger. "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" is the exhortation that reveals the path and the strength in which it becomes possible to overcome the danger and stand perfect in all the will of God.
Would you indeed know and do God's will, listen to the warning: "Be not conformed to this world." "The friendship of this world is enmity against God." Its root principle, that by which it became a "world that lieth in the evil one," was the rejection of the will of God. The world may acknowledge a God, but it cannot and will not do His will. It cannot by its very nature do anything but its own will. We are by nature of the world. We are still in it, and ever in danger of being under its influence. After our regeneration the secret, subtle atmosphere with which it surrounds us, and with which the flesh is in alliance, hinders thousands of Christians from seeking a life of true and full devotion to the will of God. Unless with our whole heart we reject its principles, its pleasures, its pursuits, we gradually lose the spiritual capacity of delighting in and performing God's will. Unless we come out from the world, where self-will and self-pleasing rules, we never can live the life in which the believer only seeks to be a sacrifice well-pleasing to God, and to prove the well-pleasing will of God. Do let us believe it—the great cause of failure in doing the will of God is simply a worldly spirit. Therefore beware: "Be not fashioned according to this world."
The negative, " Not being fashioned according to the world," must be accompanied by the positive, "But be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." The renewal in regeneration, once for all, must be followed up by the continual, the daily, renewing of the Holy Ghost. "That ye be renewed in the spirit of your minds." "He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." This is the only power that can enable us to live as living, holy, acceptable sacrifices, that can fit us truly to delight in doing the will of God. The attempt to do the will of God with a heart that does not daily seek and find the renewing of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of the mind, must end in failure. It is only a healthy man can do a healthy man's work. It is only a spiritual man who can walk in the spiritual path of obedience to all God's will.
I ask you, beloved believer, to pause and take in the lessons we have been taught. To prove what is the good and acceptable will of God is the calling and the privilege of every believer. It is impossible to fulfil this calling, except as we know that we have definitely yielded ourselves to live as holy sacrifices, well-pleasing to God in everything. The one great hindrance to this is a worldly spirit in ^conformity to the dispositions and habits of the men of the world. The only power that can overcome this danger is that of the Holy Spirit: to be daily transformed in the renewing of our mind gives the spiritual capacity to know, to love, to do all God's will.
If you find that you are not yet living this life, rest not till you know and possess it. If it is because you have never definitely and finally accepted God's will as your life, oh, do so now! If it be that you have never presented yourself a living sacrifice—come at once, and yield to God's claim! By the mercies of God I beseech you: Give up yourself to the God who redeemed you. If you have done so but failed, because you never knew how much there was of the world in you— begin at once to live the life of not being fashioned according to the world, but being transformed by the renewing of the Holy Ghost.
Take courage, my brother! The Eternal Spirit through whom Christ said, "I delight to do Thy will," and offered Himself a sacrifice unto God, dwells in you. Yield yourself as a sacrifice for Him to consume. Believe and receive His daily renewing; He will fit you for proving all the perfect will of God.